Saturday, June 23, 2007

We met this guy at a bar last night

He was a handsome, young man. We stopped by Berghoff's (no longer its name) on the way to see Beethoven's Ninth Symphony.

He was standing, and I offered him the empty stool next to me. No, he didn't want it because, in his short history (before Bergoff's Bar changed to 17 West), there were never stools at the bar, and that's the way he liked it. (I argued with him slightly but gave up because he was adamant). A few minutes later, he asked my husband and me, "Where are you from?" Berwyn, we said. And he didn't 't believe us. Ok, Nashville (me) and West Tennessee (Bob), originally. We moved here three years ago.

So in the course of our conversation, this (rather pompous, but cute) Midwesterner lets us know, he's always hated the South (Atlanta is tolerable because it is a large city and cosmopolitan) and that Southern accents are like (or used to be like) fingernails on a chalkboard to him. He has some relatives who grew up in Knoxville, and when he first heard their accents, he just could barely stand to talk to them. But the accents have now "grown on him," and he finds them charming. (Right. Give me a break.)

Now, I wonder, what would possess a person to proclaim his hate for the South (true, it has its sordid history) and his (former) abhorrence of Southern accents to TWO SOUTHERNERS. I can be very undiplomatic myself (ask any of my colleagues and friends), but I don't think, if I met someone, I would proclaim my profound dislike for the whole segment of the country in which they grew up. I would not say, "My god, I hate the North because of New York accents." (I might, however, indicate New York is not a place I would like to live. Too intimidating.)

There is something about the South and people who have Southern accents that allows outright ridicule. People believe they have carte blanche permission to make fun of the general area of the country and the people who currently (or formerly) reside in it. Because we have Southern accents, we automatically have 10 to 20 points taken off our IQs. (Now it might be true of me, but my husband has about a 2,000 IQ and a Ph.D. from Northwestern.) Genteel Southern accents from parts of South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia or Georgia are sometimes charming to these people, but I'm not lucky enough to have one of those.

I run into people like this at work, too. They will mock my Southern accent, but do you think they would ever consider mocking an African American accent? Nope that would be racial discrimination. It wouldn't be tolerated. And I work at a very liberal, politically correct place that provides anti-racism training to all new employees.

My colleagues are tired of my harping on this, but it hasn't been resolved, and I'll keep on it until it is.

Now, it's breakfast time, and I'm fixing to get some vittles.

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